The best way to transfer your content to a new iPhone

iPhone 6 and 6 PlusWhen you get a new iPhone, there is no need to reinstall all of your apps and configure all of your settings again. Apple provides some ways to easily transfer all of your data. If you purchase your iPhone at the Apple Store they will usually walk you through transferring your content. But if you purchase anywhere else (AT&T store, Best Buy, etc.) they will typically skip this whole process for you and set you up with a clean slate, not even telling you that this is an option. This process should also be useful to upgrade to a new iPad or iPod touch, or even to upgrade from an iPod Touch to an iPhone.

Back up. Normally I recommend backing up by iCloud because it’s the lowest maintenance option. However, if you know that you will be transferring to a new device, using an iTunes backup will speed the process and do a more complete backup.

  1. Plug your device into your computer by USB.
  2. Locate your device in the top right corner of iTunes or on the left column, depending on how you have iTunes configured.
  3. Transfer purchases. Right click it and choose “Transfer Purchases” from the dropdown menu. This will copy all of your purchased apps, music, anything else that you have on your device to your computer. Wait for the process to finish.
  4. Encrypt your backup. Click your device again in iTunes, and on the main “Summary” tab scroll down about halfway and look for the Backup section. Check the box to “Encrypt local backup”. When prompted for a password you can use your computer login password and check the box to save it in the keychain. Or another password if you’d rather. This part is important because if your backup is unencrypted, it will not include all of your passwords so you’ll have to log back into your apps all over again.
  5. Wait for the backup to complete. Check the “Last Backup” date and make sure that it was just backed up.

Restore. Once you have your new phone you can now restore your backup.

  1. If your new iPhone has already been set up you will need to erase it to restore your phone to factory settings. Go to the Settings app > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. Your phone will reboot and bring you back to the set up wizard. If it has not yet been set up, continue to the next step.
  2. Partway through the setup process (after turning on Location Services) choose to restore from an iTunes Backup. Follow the directions provided. If you accidentally choose “Set up as a new Phone” you may need to go back to step 1 to start over again.

Cleanup. There are some remnants of your old phone that need deleting, and you’ll need to clean those up once you confirm that your new iPhone is working the way you want.

  • Delete your old backups.

    • iCloud backups. On your new device go to the Settings app > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage. Tap your old device backup. It should not say “This iPhone” under the backup title. Tap the Delete button.
    • iTunes backups. Go to your iTunes Preferences > Devices. Delete all backups that are for old devices.
  • Start your new backup. Make sure your backup is completed ASAP. On your new device visit the Settings app > iCloud > Backup and make sure that iCloud backup is turned on. You may wan to tap “Back Up Now” to begin your initial backup right away.
  • Erase your old device. Once you are satisfied that everything has been transferred successfully, you will need to erase your old phone so that the new user doesn’t have any of your old content. On our old device go to the Settings app > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings.

All done! Your old iPhone can get you a good chunk of change (even if the screen is broken!) or it makes a great gift.